Words from a Wanderer

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March 2017 Book of the Month

Words from a Wanderer, version two, is a timeless and beautiful collection of #anote2self affirmations. This book of gems was first published in 2013 as a collection of notes and love poems. For the three year anniversary, WFAW has been redesigned, re-edited and rereleased. It is now a book of 62 #anote2self daily affirmations that readers can carry with them easily. This edition can serve as a resource for daily meditation, mantra guidance, and encouragement to its reader. Author, Alexandra Elle, created this book to shed light on the fact that indeed not all who wander are lost; some are simply still finding their way.

www.alexelle.com

The Glass Castle

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February 2017 Book of the Month

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

Guided Meditation

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Rather than offer a book club pick this month, we thought we’d suggest students check out a new website:  www.bigwavesstrongboat.com.

Social worker and TTSM friend, Mary Waldon, has put together an outstanding resource for individuals looking for a “taste” of meditation.  One of the quandaries of integrating meditation into daily routine is finding the time to sit.  This collection of guided meditation allows for an active mindful practice.  And, seriously, why not use your shower time to develop mindful awareness?  Besides it’s FREE, it’s ONLINE, it’s FRIENDLY and EASY to use.  Honestly, Mary may have eradicated all valid excuses for putting off the exploration of self.  Enjoy!

Sacred Contracts

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January 2017 Book of the Month

New York Times bestselling author and medical intuitive Caroline Myss has found that when people don’t understand their purpose in life the result can be depression, anxiety, fatigue, and eventually physical illness—in short, a spiritual malaise of epidemic proportions. Myss’s experience of working with people led her to develop an insightful and ingenious process for deciphering your own Sacred Contract—or higher purpose—using a new theory of archetypes that builds on the works of Jung, Plato, and many other contemporary thinkers.

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The Invention of Wings

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December 2016 Book of the Month

It’s winter break! Thought we’d pick an old favorite novel of ours to dive into…

The Invention of Wings, a powerful and sweeping historical novel by Sue Monk Kidd, begins, fittingly, with an image of flight: Hetty “Handful”, who has grown up as a slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, recalls the night her mother told her that her ancestors in Africa could fly over trees and clouds. That day, Handful’s mother, Charlotte, gave her daughter the gift of hope— the possibility that someday she might regain her wings and fly to freedom.  Throughout Kidd’s exquisitely written story, Handful struggles, sometimes with quiet dissidence, sometimes with open rebellion, to cultivate a belief in the invincibility of her spirit and in the sacred truth that one does not need actual wings in order to rise.”

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Habits of the Heart

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November 2016 Book of the Month

First published in 1985, Habits of the Heart continues to be one of the most discussed interpretations of modern American society, a quest for a democratic community that draws on our diverse civic and religious traditions. In a new preface the authors relate the arguments of the book both to the current realities of American society and to the growing debate about the country’s future. With this new edition one of the most influential books of recent times takes on a new immediacy.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

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October 2016 Book of the Month

“What happens when media and politics become forms of entertainment? In the season of Trump and Hillary, Neil Postman’s essential guide to the modern media is more relevant than ever.

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Deathis a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of  entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.

“It’s unlikely that Trump has ever read Amusing Ourselves to Death, but his ascent would not have surprised Postman.” –CNN

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Brain On Fire

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September 2016 Book of the Month

You’re just getting back to your studies, and you may find it hard to pick up yet another book, but I promise this one will have you completely captivated from the first sentence. You may even finish it in a weekend!

“An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?

In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.

Think on These Things

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August 2016 Book of the Month

You know when someone gives you a book and insists on you reading it and then it sits on your book shelf for weeks, months or even years? Well… this is one of those books on my shelf.

I looked at it yesterday as I was weeding out the books I would take to my local used book store, and I did what I often like to do, which is to open to a random page and read the first sentence I find.

Here’s what it said:

“The moment you criticize, you are not in relationship, you already have a barrier between yourself and them; but if you merely observe, then you will have a direct relationship with people and with things. If you can observe alertly, keenly, but without judging, without concluding, you will find that your thinking becomes astonishingly acute. Then you are learning all the time.”

Think I’ll start from the beginning now.

Five Smooth Stones

Five Smooth Stones

July 2016 Book of the Month 

I read Five Smooth Stones a few years ago at the recommendation of my boyfriend’s mom. She sent us two of these huge books in the mail so that we could all read it at the same time. When I saw it on my shelf today, it brought back so many memories of learning about the civil rights movement in a way that was engaging and beautiful. I couldn’t wait to return to it night after night to see what was happening in David’s life.

I can’t help but think that this is the right time to re-visit this alluring novel.

“This gripping bestseller, first published in 1966, has continued to captivate readers with its wide-ranging yet intimate portrait of an America sundered by racial conflict. David Champlin is a black man born into poverty in Depression-era New Orleans who makes his way up the ladder of success, only to sacrifice everything to lead his people in the civil rights movement. Sara Kent is the white girl who loves David from the moment she first sees him, and who struggles against his belief that a marriage for them would be wrong in the violent world he has to confront.”

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